You must have heard about IP addresses before, but what you probably do not know is that it can disclose specific details about you. Websites, advertisers, and marketers can combine your IP address with other information scraped from cookies, browser fingerprints, and trackers to get an accurate idea about who you are and what interests you have.
Read on to find out what an IP address is and why you should care about it:
What Is an IP Address?
An Internet Protocol address, more commonly referred to as an IP address, is a unique identifying number that is assigned to devices (mobile phone, laptop, router, printer, etc.) when they connect to the Internet. There are currently two versions of Internet Protocol in use, namely Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), and they serve two main functions:
- Host identification
- Location addressing
IPv4 uses a 32-bit addressing scheme and allows for a total of just over 4 billion possible addresses. IPv6, on the other hand, was developed to cope with the long anticipated issue of IPv4 address depletion. It uses a 128-bit addressing scheme and has larger address space than its predecessor; a whopping 340 undecillion unique addresses!
Public IP & Private IP Addresses
Whenever you go online, you’re assigned a public (external or global) IP address by your ISP. This is visible to the outside world and allows websites as well as devices to send data to your network; it’s not possible to connect to the Internet without a public IP address!
A private IP (internal or local) IP address is assigned by your router via the DHCP protocol to each device that isn’t directly connected to the Internet. This isn’t visible to anyone outside your Local Area Network (LAN) and allows multiple devices to communicate with one another.
What Personal Information Can an IP Address Reveal?
Now that you have learned what an IP address is as well as how it work, let us take a look at two critical pieces of information an IP address can disclose:
Your Geographical Location
Your IP address can show your geographical location, such as the city, state/region, and country you are accessing the Internet from. It also reveals other details including your ISP, ZIP/postal code, hostname, and connection type.
Though it does not identify your precise physical address, your IP location and browsing activity can be pieced together by someone curious to build a digital profile of who is connecting to the Internet from that particular IP address.
Your Browsing Data
Since it is your ISP that assigns your network an IP address (whether it is static or dynamic) they can see everything that you do on the Internet such as the websites you visit, the apps you use, the files you download, the media you view, and the searches you conduct.
In some countries, like Australia and the UK for example, ISPs are required to log and retain their customers’ Internet usage and communications data for a specified time period. If the authorities serve the ISP a subpoena, they can gain access to all your personal details.
How to Hide Your IP Address?
If you want to avoid this breach of privacy, then you should hide your IP address with a virtual private network (VPN). Not only does it replace your IP address with a virtual one, but also redirects your Internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel making it virtually impossible for anyone to pinpoint your location or snoop on what you’re up to online.
While you may want to use a free VPN since they are, well, free, be advised: they track and sell your personal data to third-parties for a profit. After all, they have to make money somehow and this usually comes at the expense of your online privacy. For this reason, you are better off using a paid VPN as they offer top-notch privacy and security features and keep no logs whatsoever.
PureVPN is one of the most reputed names in the VPN industry. Based in Hong Kong, it offers unlimited access to 2,000+ VPN servers in 141+ countries around the world, and a huge pool of 300,000+ anonymous IPs to hide your identity behind. Moreover, it comes with an array of features that enhance your security and privacy, such as Internet Kill Switch, WebRTC leak protection, Port Forwarding, etc.
Wrapping Things Up
And that’s about it… Hide your IP address for complete privacy; it’s your best bet when it comes to keeping your location and browsing activities concealed from interested parties!